Tuesday, 2 April 2013

ThorntonRC's Ronde de Vlaanderen 2013

 Ronde de Vlaanderen 2013

There were three representatives at this year Ronde de Vlaanderen with all opting for the 130km route, which appeared a good option with freezing temperatures predicted. Myself, Nick Wood and Dan Wren set off on Good Friday afternoon with a three hour delay at Euro Tunnel and arriving at hotel just in time to grab some food, which Nick unfortunately deposited on his trousers. Things could only get better!

We stayed on the outskirts of Ghent around 12 miles from the start town of Oudenaarde which after a quick breakfast we drove freely to the allocated parking and registered for the event, a quick photo and we were off at just before 8:00am CET. Oh I forgot to mention it was freezing with a strong wind.
Within 10 miles of trying to warm up it was too late we were at the bottom of the Koppenberg. Half way up a poor chap became the first victim of the Pave, he would not be the last, but I had to stop to avoid him, fortunately that was the only time I would not complete a climb. We re-grouped at the top but the cobbled climbs were coming fast and furious at around every 5km, with long sections on the flat which made the warm up even harder. At around 25 miles the sun came out for around 10 minutes, it returned behind the clouds and that was the last we were to see it on this ride. We stopped only once at the 45 mile feed station to refuel on waffles and watered down energy drinks. We did not hang around long as we were getting cold so we set off but after a km we were greeted by the longest section of flat pave, a distance of 2.4km, after the short break and feeling cold this was a shock to the system!

With myself and Nick warming up for the final push, Dan was feeling the effect of the cobbles and we pushed on for the finish. The Molenberg resulted in myself finding Nick of the floor, that was the one hill I got to the top first! Having started ealier the ride was not congested and we were able to join some fast moving groups to gain some protection from wind. With the finish approaching we climbed Oude Kwaremont and finally the Paterberg, a 20% cobbled brut.

With 10km to the finish we were greeted by a block head wind, we chased to catch what we thought was a fast moving group, but they were not moving fast enough for Nick who set of for the finish pulling everyone behind. With the finish line approaching fast Nick was pipped on the line and I followed in around 20 seconds later and Dan, a victim of cramp around 30 minutes later.
Some frites, a drink and a beer for Dan and we were on our way back and returned to Folkestone at 6:00pm, with myself cramping up driving 20km from Calais! I was glad it was in the car and not on the bike!
It was freezing, tough and made every bone of your body ache, would we do it again? You bet we would and possibly the full distance!
Hopefully we will see a few more of you next year as those paved climbs beat the Lower Wall Road any day!

Dan Wren's report 
Danny, Nick and myself took part in a freezing Tour of Flanders sportive yesterday, Saturday 30 March. Got off to an early start to escape the congestion of 18,000 enthusiastic participants. Had a rude awakening after 10k on the Koppenberg climb, a cobbled wall maxing out at 22 percent, Nick in good form shot off like a whippet, Danny brought to a standstill by a crash, I couldn't squeeze through the gap and managed to knock off some angry Belgiums, bringing the climb to a temporary walk. Air went blue, no Thorton jerseys on show, club reputation intact. Despite an unrelenting assault from the brutal cobbles it got better and better from there. Flanders veterans Danny and Nick pushed ahead after about 80k, I took it at my own pace trying to avoid cramp. Great atmosphere, great fun and some good Belgium beer to wash it down.